Lukas Podolski returns to Cologne in summer after three frustrating years at Bayern Munich where the Germany striker rarely showed his potential.
It comes as no surprise that Podolski will leave Bayern
The clubs announced the deal, reportedly worth 10 million euros ($13.28 million), on Monday, putting an end to months of speculation and several weeks of talks between the two sides.
Podolski will sign a contract until 2013 at his home club, but only provided that promoted Cologne stay in the top flight and are not relegated. The western Germans are currently placed 11th.
"I am glad that a decision about my future has been reached and the speculation about me is over," Podolski said on his home page.
Podolski said he had good talks with Cologne coach Christoph Daum and general manager Michael Meier as Cologne aim to build a strong team around the popular forward who is their biggest transfer.
"The club's concept convinced me - we want to achieve something over the next years in Cologne," Podolski told the Cologne website.
Hometown hero ignores other offers
Podolski has been eager to return to Cologne
Italy's Roma as well as Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and SV Hamburg also showed interest in Podolski, but all that he wanted was a homecoming to Cologne where he played from his youth onwards until 2006.
"I am very happy that Lukas returns to us. He followed his heart," said Cologne president Wolfgang Overath, himself a former club icon who won the 1974 World Cup.
Munich general manager Uli Hoeness said that "we granted his request to return to Cologne" and expressed his belief that Podolski will show character in his final months at the champions. Podolski promised "to fully concentrate on Munich until summer."
Podolski left for Munich after Germany's third-placed finish at the 2006 home World Cup but never managed the desired breakthrough there.
Beckenbauer criticizes Poldi's desire at Bayern
Podolski was rarely fielded as a starter in an attacking lineup boasting Italy striker Luca Toni and Germany's Miroslav Klose. With US player Landon Donovan staying at least until March and Ivica Olic hired from summer onwards his position would have not improved.
Podolski's showings in Munich with 11 goals in 58 games stand in sharp contrast to those in the national team where he has netted 31 goals in 60 caps.
Beckenbauer said Poldi dhould have fought harder
Munich president Franz Beckenbauer was among those who criticized Podolski for not fighting hard enough for a place in the starting 11, saying "Maybe he gave up a little too early."
But others including Germany coach Joachim Loew said that the chemistry between a club and a player must be right.
"He must be at a club where he feels well. Lukas is an emotional person. He needs cozy surroundings to play at his best. And if he feels that Cologne can offer this then his step is the right one," Loew said last week. "I told him 'listen to your heart,'" he added.